Coaches or teachers need to be good leaders to ensure that their players or students will follow their vision for what they should be doing. Leadership is not easy and is something that a coach needs to strive to improve on throughout his or her career. An excellent book on leadership that involves basketball coaching is Lead…for God’s Sake! A parable for finding the heart of leadership by Todd Gongwer. The book tells the story of a very successful high school basketball coach who is confronted with setbacks, and has to really consider what it means to be a leader and to be successful. The janitor at the school becomes a mentor to him, and helps him realizes what being a truly great leader and basketball coach entails.
The janitor poses a question to the basketball coach: “Why do you do what you do?” It is a vital question to consider because what most motivates us to action usually determines how we attempt to motivate others to action. A major point is that competence is never complete without connection-relationships. The janitor explains it this way. “Jesus taught over and over that our very existence was all about relationships—first with him, and then with others. That’s why God created us in the first place. So it stands to reason that when your why answer is self-centered, your purpose, your very reason for existence, is not being fulfilled. And in the long run, you’ll not experience the true peace and joy this life has to offer.”
Reflective questions are an important part of making a good leader. Coach Wooden said that he would ask himself one question everyday. “How can I make my team better?” His focus was not on himself but on others and what could be done to improve them. Three questions that people often ask about their leader are the following: “Can you help me? Do you care for me? Can I trust you?” Being an exceptional leader means communicating “yes” answers to each of these questions to your players.
Any leader or coach should pray for wisdom daily or even hourly. Though coaches or leaders will not all be blessed with wisdom like Solomon, through hard work and trusting in God’s love to guide our lives, wisdom and leadership can be developed. Seeking out others with more knowledge or expertise in coaching or leadership is an excellent way to learn from others and develop your skills. John Maxwell lists several questions that can be used during a learning session.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
What are you learning now?
How has failure shaped your life?
Who do you know whom I should know?
What have you read that I should read?
What have you done that I should do?
How can I add value to you?
As leaders, how we interact with others matters greatly. Solomon knew this and there is great wisdom from the Bible from Solomon’s writings. Verses in Proverbs state the importance of considering our words carefully. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1. If we season our conversation with God’s grace, then our relationships will go better.
Solomon showed his love for his people through his words. In 1 Kings 8 he speaks a blessing over all of the people of Israel.
Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.
The focus of his blessings was for the people to actively seek God and never forget what He has done for them. President Lincoln’s pastor was Dr. Phineas Gurley. After hearing him give a sermon one Sunday President Lincoln was asked what he thought. He said, “It was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant, and well presented.” So it was a great sermon? “No,” Lincoln replied, “because it did not ask us to do something great.” Great leaders inspire action through their words and Solomon was no different knowing that God’s love is the source of our inspiration.
Gongwer, T.G. (2011). Lead…for God’s Sake! A parable for finding the heart of leadership. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Maxwell, J. (2014). Good leaders ask great questions. New York: Center Street.
Maxwell, J. (2010). Everyone communicates few connect: What the most effective people do differently. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Stohlmann, M. (2016). The world's greatest coach. Seattle, WA: CreateSpace.
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.